Welcome!

Blog Feed Post

Email is Dead. Long Live Email.

Every once in a while you’ll see an article claiming “email is dead.” In most cases the author is simply using a sensational headline to attract eyeballs to an article about, you guessed it, some new email service or software that has formed a relationship with the writer.

In a few cases though, the writer is actually serious. They usually say that some form of instant messaging is a far better replacement for that old outdated email your grandfather used – if only, they say, that messaging were more mature. It’s at that point, the writer typically goes on to list several features and capabilities that would make instant messaging truly an email killer – with features including longer messages, attachments, an easy way to include others on the conversation, archives, tags and other means to organize conversations, advanced search capabilities, …oh, and maybe it could all be built on open standards so that anyone could build any client they wanted on top of it.

In other words, instant messaging, they say, would be perfectly suited to kill email, …if it were exactly like email …but with a cool retro hipster name like Cilantroo, and wrapped in an awesome looking new package designed and developed by some rockstar, presumably-under-30 founder whose startup is funded by Ashton Kutcher, and that guy who founded Napster – but only if that Napster guy is still cool.

In other words, these writers are idiots.

Other writers talk about platforms like Yammer as being perfectly positioned to kill email, because they offer more advanced collaborative capabilities and integration with corporate CRM, issue, task and project management systems. This is also funny to me, given these features are so advanced as to be of interest primarily to enterprise users who represent roughly 4% of the total addressable market for email and messaging systems.

Could you seriously picture your grandma or kids using Yammer instead of Gmail? I didn’t think so.

In both cases though, tech and industry writers are doing a good job in proving two things:

First, that the industry of leading edge tech is saturated with self appointed experts, advisors, analysts and media who often don’t even know the history of the very markets and technologies they’re talking about. If they did, they’d know that a big portion of everything new is actually another iteration of technology and utility that has served markets for many years already, but perhaps had been forgotten or replaced a long, long time ago (like, 5 years ago) by much cooler marketing slogans and product positioning.

Second, for much of the past 20 years, consumers and enterprise customers have been pretty clear about what they want – and they still in most cases want email. They also want instant messaging. And they want more advanced communications and collaborative tools that integrate with all their other enterprise systems, too.

A little history…

From the moment AOL created Instant Messenger in 1997, everyone immediately began using the platform for instant, interactive and often “disposable” conversations (exchanges that help solve a problem or request immediately, but which are then rarely referred to later). Some readers here will point out that AOL’s IM was a response to ICQ (released in 1996), and that some form of instant messaging has existed in some form since the 1960′s. But in terms of broad adoption and ubiquity, the turning point was IM.

During this same period, email remained as popular as ever, and continued being used for long form conversations that users often wanted to save and refer to later, including documentation, attachments, receipts and confirmations, letters to friends and family, some basic tasks and events, and so on.

In the corporate or enterprise worlds, email was OK, but these users also wanted more – including collaboration, tracking, compliance and additional security. In the 80′s and 90′s, before Yammer and Kato’s founders were even born I believe (?), enterprise addressed these needs with systems such as Lotus Notes. Some readers again will point out that Lotus Notes and Domino were actually preceded by mainframe-based PLATO Group Notes by more than a decade – but the point is, there has always been this need, and Yammer is just part of the latest iteration of products that seeks to address that need.

Also, I believe, the press and media at that time often claimed Lotus Notes would end email as we know it. Funny, right?

Here is what has always been, and still remains true about messaging and communications:

  1. Consumers and enterprise have always wanted and still need some form of instant messaging which is perfectly designed for live and/or disposable conversations.
  2. The vast majority of consumers and even corporate users have always wanted and still need all the features and capabilities of email.
  3. For more advanced (typically corporate) environments requiring integration with customer, project and sales systems, enterprise has always wanted and still needs some equivalent to Lotus Notes, but better.

While each iteration of leading edge tech seems to consist of much the same things that came around previously, there is some amount of real innovation, great advances in the underlying platforms, capabilities, network speed and interfaces around these technologies. I am by no means claiming everything is a repeat of something else – but a lot of it is. Many startups would save themselves so much time, and could avoid making so many of the same mistakes as their predecessors, by simply learning a bit more about the relatively recent history of their own markets.

I’d love to hear from you. Why don’t we WeChat? But first I need to send a short message from my microblog and content-sharing sites, which point people to the blog where I posted this article. I know blogs are so 2009, but I have yet to find a suitable replacement. Blogs and commenting systems, by the way, have been popular for several years, after everyone got tired of wikis, which developed a few years after forums and message boards, and themselves evolved from FrontPage and other WYSIWYG edited sites, which grew from the GeoCities concept of individual, group and community webpages, which attempted to extend usernets and newsgroups into the web browser, after Compuserve, Prodigy and Genie communities, and BBS (Bulletin Board Systems) which have existed both in graphical WWW and older internet forms since the 70′s, which themselves.

And when you think about this progression, the fact is, every new generation of text-based and media sharing platform has simply offered a better iteration of the previous platform – and not by any means a replacement of the entire category, as was often claimed by writers and analysts at each and every step.

Perhaps one day, any platform that requires any typing will cease to exist all together. THEN, I believe the industry could claim email and all other text-based messaging is dead. Until then however, all reports of email’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, again.

In conclusion…

People, consumer and enterprise users, will continue doing what they’ve always done in this and every other situation: Use the right tool for the right job.

It’s up to those in the tech world and every other industry to keep building better and better tools – rather than repeatedly proclaiming that everything a nail, just because one particular vendor or writer likes hammers.

~Fini

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Thomas Krafft

Over 15 years of experience in marketing and demand creation, with strategies driving over $500 million in revenue for a variety of companies in several high-growth and competitive markets, including consumer software and web services, ecommerce, demand creation through web and search, big data, and now healthcare.

Latest Stories
Internet-of-Things discussions can end up either going down the consumer gadget rabbit hole or focused on the sort of data logging that industrial manufacturers have been doing forever. However, in fact, companies today are already using IoT data both to optimize their operational technology and to improve the experience of customer interactions in novel ways. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Gordon Haff, Red Hat Technology Evangelist, shared examples from a wide range of industries – including en...
In IT, we sometimes coin terms for things before we know exactly what they are and how they’ll be used. The resulting terms may capture a common set of aspirations and goals – as “cloud” did broadly for on-demand, self-service, and flexible computing. But such a term can also lump together diverse and even competing practices, technologies, and priorities to the point where important distinctions are glossed over and lost.
In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Kelly Looney, director of DevOps consulting for Skytap, showed how an incremental approach to introducing containers into complex, distributed applications results in modernization with less risk and more reward. He also shared the story of how Skytap used Docker to get out of the business of managing infrastructure, and into the business of delivering innovation and business value. Attendees learned how up-front planning allows for a clean sep...
Most companies are adopting or evaluating container technology - Docker in particular - to speed up application deployment, drive down cost, ease management and make application delivery more flexible overall. As with most new architectures, this dream takes a lot of work to become a reality. Even when you do get your application componentized enough and packaged properly, there are still challenges for DevOps teams to making the shift to continuous delivery and achieving that reduction in cost ...
Detecting internal user threats in the Big Data eco-system is challenging and cumbersome. Many organizations monitor internal usage of the Big Data eco-system using a set of alerts. This is not a scalable process given the increase in the number of alerts with the accelerating growth in data volume and user base. Organizations are increasingly leveraging machine learning to monitor only those data elements that are sensitive and critical, autonomously establish monitoring policies, and to detect...
Enterprise architects are increasingly adopting multi-cloud strategies as they seek to utilize existing data center assets, leverage the advantages of cloud computing and avoid cloud vendor lock-in. This requires a globally aware traffic management strategy that can monitor infrastructure health across data centers and end-user experience globally, while responding to control changes and system specification at the speed of today’s DevOps teams. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Josh Gray, Chie...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. Jack Norris reviews best practices to show how companies develop, deploy, and dynamically update these applications and how this data-first...
Intelligent Automation is now one of the key business imperatives for CIOs and CISOs impacting all areas of business today. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Boeggeman, VP Alliances & Partnerships at Ayehu, will talk about how business value is created and delivered through intelligent automation to today’s enterprises. The open ecosystem platform approach toward Intelligent Automation that Ayehu delivers to the market is core to enabling the creation of the self-driving enterprise.
"At the keynote this morning we spoke about the value proposition of Nutanix, of having a DevOps culture and a mindset, and the business outcomes of achieving agility and scale, which everybody here is trying to accomplish," noted Mark Lavi, DevOps Solution Architect at Nutanix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"We're here to tell the world about our cloud-scale infrastructure that we have at Juniper combined with the world-class security that we put into the cloud," explained Lisa Guess, VP of Systems Engineering at Juniper Networks, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Historically, some banking activities such as trading have been relying heavily on analytics and cutting edge algorithmic tools. The coming of age of powerful data analytics solutions combined with the development of intelligent algorithms have created new opportunities for financial institutions. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Sebastien Meunier, Head of Digital for North America at Chappuis Halder & Co., discussed how these tools can be leveraged to develop a lasting competitive advantage ...
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
"We're a cybersecurity firm that specializes in engineering security solutions both at the software and hardware level. Security cannot be an after-the-fact afterthought, which is what it's become," stated Richard Blech, Chief Executive Officer at Secure Channels, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Mike Johnston, an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io, discussed how to use Kubernetes to set up a SaaS infrastructure for your business. Mike Johnston is an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io with over 12 years of experience designing, deploying, and maintaining server and workstation infrastructure at all scales. He has experience with brick and mortar data centers as well as cloud providers like Digital Ocean, Amazon Web Services, and Rackspace. H...
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.